Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.


Quo Vadimus? Where Digital Health Is Going in 2017

Where are we going?

I’m excited for digital health in 2017 on the edges and in the border regions. Both metaphorically and literally. I think we’re going to see good things come out of developing nations. I think we’re going to see good things come from tech companies. I think we’re going to see good things come from little startups. I think Cambridge is going to come even more into focus as a hotbed for biotech.

Historically smaller players, like these, are going to have a chance to be noticed for their accomplishments, because the corporations and regulators are so big and stuck and uncertain right now. The political clusterf…. unhinged …. ahem… the flux at the federal level is scary and nobody knows what to make of it. That unpredictability won’t lend itself to an effective year at that level.

But I think it may lend itself to littler guys going, hey, I can’t change all that … but here’s something cool I can make happen.

I am hopeful for small wins. It’s a scary year in many ways. And it’s a scary year to make predictions. But I still have some hope. And foolhardy though it may be, here are some predictions I’ll venture to make.

Regulatory – I believe the political situation will stall a lot of regulatory progress. A lot is changing on Capitol Hill, but I’m not sure anybody feels settled or safe, on either side. I hope I’m correct in hoping that not a lot will change for the public this year. And that perhaps, eventually, wiser minds will prevail. (God willing. Deo volente. Inshallah.)

Providers – EHRs will keep evolving. I don’t think we’ll see meaningful progress toward value-based care this year (largely because of the political mess), but I do think the eventual legacy of Obamacare – whatever happens to it – will be that it pushed American healthcare toward the mindset of paying for results, not quantity. I think seeing it in practice still won’t happen for a long while though.

Disease states – I think opioid addiction will push itself further up agendas as the fatalities keep rising. I think big data will see more practical application, particularly in diabetes. I think 3D printing will be seen more, particularly in orthopedics and orthodontics.

Technology – Augmented reality will seem less and less sci-fi, and more and more normal. Maybe with headsets, but also just with phone apps – and in other uses too, from dashboard displays to wearables. It won’t be long before Snapchat Spectacles let you not only record, but view life with filters. What about health applications – like sunglasses to wear on the beach that check your family for sun damage?

Advertising – The embrace of programmatic media buying will mean that the ads we see (not only in web browsing but also in social media, television, etc.) are increasingly algorithmically targeted. Healthcare is finally joining CPG on this.

Marketing – As more and more gets automated, we crave the human touch more and more. Alexa and Siri aren’t enough. In today’s world, consumers are surprised and delighted by positive, emotional, truly human interaction. And brands that get that will apply it to their benefit. Some will make attempts with cold, unhelpful AI that doesn’t pass the Turing test, but some will get it right and remind customers that at the end of the day, we are humans dealing with humans.

Social media – Twitter has to get their house in order. Certainly it’s been in the political limelight, but that’s not enough. When 60% of your leadership team leaves in one year, and the best descriptor for your media coverage might be “doomsdayish,” you need more. I hope they’re not sold, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen in 2017.



Ilene Rosenthal

Thanks for grounding me as we begin 2017, Sarah!

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